Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Myra Johnson | Spread the Christmas Joy


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A “Moving” Christmas Story

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David…. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and [Mary] gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. (Luke 2:4–7, NIV)

So many Christmases in our family hold special memories—some happy, some sad, but rarely without a nugget of wisdom worth recalling. One year in particular has stayed with me. It was the Christmas of 1975, and my husband, early in his management-level career with the former Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, had just been transferred—again! Between Christmas and the first of January, we would be moving from San Antonio, Texas, where we’d settled only 18 months prior, to St. Louis, Missouri.

There is nothing easy about moving. Add in two children under the age of three and a busy Christmas season, and things get even more complicated. We did put up our tree and do a little decorating, then unwrapped gifts a few days early amid packing crates stacked for the movers and our suitcases parked by the door. The next day we would depart on a long car trip to visit extended family before heading to our new home.

At least in those days (read “when we were MUCH younger”), we could almost see this as an adventure. There’s excitement in setting up housekeeping in a new place, meeting new friends, and exploring everything a new locale has to offer.

But there’s also dread. Saying goodbye to the familiar. Hoping the neighbors are friendly and we’ll discover a few common interests. Learning our way around the city and seeking out new places to shop, new health providers, new child care options, a new church home. So many uncertainties, so many adjustments.

When I recall the Christmas of 1975, it puts me in mind of Mary, great with child, traveling with Joseph to Bethlehem. Then their even longer journey, when they fled with Jesus to Egypt to escape the murderous King Herod. They didn’t have a comfortable automobile to travel in, or a four-, three-, or even two-star hotel where they could rest along the way. No paved four-lane highways, no climate-controlled rest stops, no fast-food restaurants. Just brutally hard travel with no guarantee of safety on the road or welcome upon their arrival.

In today’s world, especially here in middle-class America, we take so much for granted. Our “first-world problems”—things like slow Internet, misplacing the TV remote, deciding which restaurant to patronize tonight—seem inconsequential in the face of real hardship. We can’t fix all the problems in the world, but there are so many small ways we can make a difference. One simple way is to include worthy charitable organizations in our holiday gift giving.

Another is the gift of time, not only in service and welcome to those in need but, equally important, within our own families. Recently my husband and I saw the movie The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and one line jumped out at me: “There is no present like the time.”

This Christmas season, I pray that each of us can find ways to rest from the busyness and reconnect with the true and only Reason for the Season, Jesus Christ. Then, in His strength, may we extend His bountiful grace not only to our families and friends but to the wider world and those so desperately in need of healing, comfort, peace, and hope.
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--> Award-winning author Myra Johnson writes emotionally gripping stories about love, life, and faith. Her historical romance When the Clouds Roll By won the 2014 Christian Retailing’s Best award for historical fiction. Myra is also a two-time finalist for the ACFW Carol Award and winner of the 2005 RWA Golden Heart. Married since 1972, Myra and her husband have two married daughters and seven grandchildren. The Johnsons reside in beautiful North Carolina near four of their grandchildren, but as a native Texan Myra sorely misses real Texas barbecue and those gorgeous bluebonnets every spring! The Johnsons share their home with two pampered rescue dogs. Connect with Myra online at www.MyraJohnson.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MyraJohnsonAuthor.

--> Myra is gracious enough to offer TWO books - one an audio book through Audible. Winner for Rancher for the Holiday's must be in the U.S. If you have a preference, mention that in the comments below.

Rancher for the Holidays
Downsized from his corporate job, Ben Fisher's donning boots and a cowboy hat to try ranching through the holidays on his uncle's spread. The handsome city slicker turns heads wherever he goes—but he soon begins to fall for one special redhead. Marley Sanders has the work-obsessed bachelor doing the unthinkable—volunteering in the community and dreaming of wedding bells and babies. But his sweet country girl insists she's never leaving Alpine, Texas, and he's set to ride out with the first job offer. Unless Marley can convince him to take the job of her forever cowboy.

One Imperfect Christmas {Audio book}
For almost a year, graphic designer Natalie Pearce’s mother has lain in a nursing home, the victim of a massive stroke, and Natalie has allowed a monstrous load of guilt to drive a wedge between her and everyone she loves—most of all her husband Daniel. Her marriage is on the verge of dissolving, her prayer life is suffering, and she’s one Christmas away from hitting rock bottom. Nothing Daniel has done has been able to break through the wall Natalie has erected between them, and their daughter Lissa’s adolescent rebellion isn’t helping matters. As Daniel’s hope reaches its lowest ebb, he wonders if this Christmas will spell the end of his marriage and the loss of everything he holds dear.